It seems I have always contemplated the stars. As early as I can remember I named the constellations, or made up my own. After midnight I feel more complete. I wrap the silence and the the velvety touch of darkness around me, a cape full of magic. I am safe inside this cape as I soak up the space that is empty of other people’s thoughts, and activity. Whole poems come to me in the quiet. Magic happens in through hearing an owl’s call. The night has always been my lover. Like Galileo I am wildly “in love” with the stars. However, sleeping has always been a challenge. And that is part of my story I want to change.
I am a walking contradiction. I am in love with the night, the stars and the darkness. But I am often sleep deprived. I have lucid dreams. But all too often I can’t remember them because I have not been able to get to a deep sleep. I have been told that acceptance is the key to change. I am learning that I need to accept my contradictions as they are all a part of me. I am a work in progress and I am changing my story.
I have an obsession about my sleep space. I have 100% cotton sheets, a pillow top mattress, and a special neck pillow. I have cleared out the space around my bed so my mind can drift and hopefully fall back asleep. I am willing to do all I can to create a space conducive to slumber.
When I was a senior in high school I just could not get to sleep. So instead, I read most of the night with my flashlight under the covers. Since then I have often joked that I do the 3:00 am, and 5:00 am shifts when I cannot sleep. Lack of sleep has often been my middle name – Mari, lack of sleep, Selby. Sometimes I am able to accept the sleep interruptions as part of who I am, part of whatever healing I am undergoing, and part of my passion for the night. Other times I get mad at myself for not having enough sleep to make it through my day. Then there are those frequent times that I take a nap and then I am not able to sleep until after midnight. And that begins a cycle of late nights, early mornings and then napping. How do I come to peace with this challenge is my question?
Sleep is important to everyone’s brain function and health. As someone who deals with Fibromyalgia sleep is the key to my not being in pain all the time. I have tried so many sleep aids. From melatonin to Calms, to Ambien and other sleep drugs. Sometimes the natural remedies would work for a little while then stop working. Or in the case of the drugs leave me feeling groggy and unable to function. I have even gone to a sleep lab and was prescribed a CPAP machine for sleep apnea.
Since losing a great deal of weight sleep apnea is no longer an issue. I meditate and my mind slows down. I practice yoga and my body is more relaxed. I give myself an Ayurvedic oil treatment before I go to bed and that relaxes my muscles and gives me a wonderful hit of loving myself.
Maybe in addition to calling myself a cancer warrior, I can also refer to myself as a sleep warrior. I have fought and the battleground is inside me. Maybe one day there will no longer be a fight, no longer be a battleground. Maybe one day I will feel more integrated with my passion for the night and sleep. Meanwhile I am willing to do all I can, follow any suggestion, and most of all be open to changing this story. I am tired of this chapter. It is time to turn the page.
** Patti Smith sang “Because the Night” in the 70’s